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"…to Relight the Lamps of Liberty"- Steyn at Hausman's Synagogue

By Jerry Gordon

Mark Steyn, left, and Rabbi Jonathan Houseman

Commentator and free speech hero Mark Steyn spoke at Ahavath Torah in Stoughton, Massachusetts last night, where  ‘warrior’ Rabbi Jon Hausman is spiritual leader. The topic was: “Relighting the Lamps of Liberty:  Standing Up For Freedom in a Darkening World”- a send-up on his book, “Lights Out: Islam, Free Speech and the Twilight of the West.” Steyn’s appearance there was triggered by a chance meeting with Rabbi Hausman, during which he indicated interest at speaking at Ahavath Torah – the go to venue for free speech advocates to appear in the greater Boston area. Rabbi Hausman’s sponsorship of Dutch politician Geert Wilders  two years ago, today, was one reason cited by Steyn in making a commitment. That was two weeks ago.  A mad scramble ensued to make suitable arrangements, including security, and get out publicity for last night’s signature event.  There were interviews with Steyn and Rabbi Hausman on The Michael Graham Show show on   Boston Talk radio station WTKK 96.9FM and the Helen Glover Radio Show on Providence WHJJ talk radio station WHJJ 920 AM.    Michael Graham introduced Steyn at last night’s  event.

Despite ‘security concerns’ ,  in the end the social hall at the synagogue was packed to overflowing with a crowd estimated in excess at over 450 people.  Rabbi Hausman  said that they ran out of seating and many stood to hear what Steyn had to say.  A fortunate 75 people who paid $100 each had a meet and greet private session with Steyn prior to his talk last night. The event was filmed  and we hope to bring you some of that when it becomes available.  Among the attendees was Dr. Charles Jacobs, who we interviewed in the February NER.  The blog Right Wing Granny had a post on the talk “Steyn in Massachusetts.”

She noted:

Mr. Steyn’s opening remarks dealt with the fact that security concerns are being used as an excuse for government authorities to control public discourse.  He pointed out that Ann Coulter had been prevented from speaking at a university in Canada due to ‘security concerns’ and that he had been prevented from speaking at a public forum in Canada due to ‘security concerns.’  He praised the Rabbi of the Ahavath Torah Congregation for refusing to bow to the pressure of ‘security concerns.’

Mr. Steyn described the current events in the Middle East as the ‘Palestiniazation’ (I suspect he coined the word–it’s a great word {actually it was Bat Ye’or who did]) of the Middle East.   He pointed out that the events in the Middle East are the result of what former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice referred to in 2005 as ‘the pursuit of stability at the expense of democracy.’  Mr. Steyn predicted that the new rulers in the countries where the dictators are being ousted will not be friendly to the West–the new leaders will be friendlier to the Muslim Brotherhood and to Iran.  He also pointed out that Anti-Semitism is already prevalent in the protests.  Mr. Steyn reminded us that in 1923, Egypt’s first full year as a sovereign state, the Egyptian Minister of Finance was Jewish.  [ [That was also the case in Iraq in 1926]. Unfortunately, that is not possible today.  As the Middle East unravels, America, supposedly the world’s superpower, is a spectator.  This is not about America.  It is about people in the Middle East who want freedom being used to usher in governments that will not give them that freedom.

Right Wing Granny noted Steyn four initiatives “to relight the lamps of liberty”:

1.      Stop out-of-control spending now and roll back government regulations and intrusion into our lives.

2.      Put an end to one-way multiculturalism.  It is amazing that a pastor in Florida who threatened to burn a Koran drew a visit from the FBI and a call from President Obama.  President Obama has never spoken out about either honor killings or female genital mutilation.  Why was burning the Koran worth a comment and not the other items?  We need a President willing to stand up and defend Western Civilization.

3.      We need to regain our individual liberty.  Our government’s response to Islamic intimidation has been to find ways to limit the free speech of people who are telling the truth about Islam.  Islam wants to use hate speech rules to make it a crime to criticize Islam.  Public discourse can be controlled and limited by setting up the state as the sole arbiter of acceptable discourse.  The group who applies the most muscle to the government will be the group who wins the concessions.

4.      We need to spread the risk of speaking out against Islam.  It is time for an “I am Spartacus” moment.  If an artist who drew a cartoon or the newspaper who published a cartoon is threatened, that cartoon should be on the front page of every newspaper in the country.  Until we are willing to share the risk of speaking out, we will lose our freedom incrementally.

From the reports it looks  like it was a boffo performance by  Steyn – a credit to Rabbi Hausman who organized this signature event at Congregation Ahavath Torah in Stoughton, Massachusetts.

Jerry Gordon is a commentator and correspondent formerly of Fairfield and now living in Pensacola, Fla.

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